Lakers 118, Warriors 116
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to help push the Los Angeles Lakers past the Golden State Warriors, but an apparent torn Achilles tendon in the closing minutes dampened the mood at Staples Center. The Lakers star has been doing the heavy lifting down the stretch of the regular season, but now the Lakers will have to finish their run to the playoffs without Bryant.
Prior to the injury, Bryant continued to play like a man on a mission to get his team into the playoffs. Here's how Silver Screen and Roll described the effort:
Kobe put it all on the floor tonight. All over the floor, going down with what felt like a new injury that looked debilitating every quarter. Finally, with only three minutes left in the fourth quarter of a tied game, Kobe could go no further. All that was left was a man who could barely walk to the free throw line before he left his team to finish the job. Yes, Kobe could play no more, and had to leave the floor at a critical point in a crucial game of the season. The man was hurt.
The Lakers held on to win after Bryant left the court, thanks to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combining to close out the Warriors. Gasol logged a triple-double for the sixth time in his career with 26 points, 11 rebounds and ten assists. Howard added 28 points and seven rebounds.
The Lakers' win and Bryant's injury overshadowed a huge performance by Stephen Curry. The Warriors point guard scored 47 points with nine three-pointers and dished out nine assists.
Heat 109, Celtics 101
The Miami Heat had all of their stars in action on Friday as they tuned up for the playoffs by beating the Boston Celtics. By the second quarter, Miami was running on all cylinders as they rallied from an early deficit to take control of the game with a 41-point period. LeBron James scored 20 points with nine assists to lead the Heat. Jeff Green scored 25 points for the short-handed Celtics, playing without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Deron Williams scored 25 of his game-high 33 points in the first half as the Nets torched the league's best defense for 69 points before halftime. The Pacers rallied to take the lead in the second half, but the Nets held on to close out the win down the stretch. The win pulled the Nets within two games of the Pacers for the No. 3 spot in the East as Indiana continues to stumble toward the end of the regular season. David West scored 26 points to lead the Pacers.
Jazz 107, Timberwolves 100
The Utah Jazz remained in the hunt for the last playoff spot in the West by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves. Al Jefferson came up huge for the Jazz with 40 points and 13 rebounds. The win leaves the Jazz one game behind the Lakers with two to play. J.J. Berea came off the bench to score 23 points for Minnesota.
O.J. Mayo hit big shots at the end of regulation and in overtime as part of his 20-point game to lift Dallas past Denver. Dirk Nowitzki added 22 points for the Mavs, who played with plenty of pride despite being knocked out of playoff contention earlier in the week. Andre Iguodala and Wilson Chandler had 18 points each for the Nuggets. The loss kept Denver's playoff positioning in limbo as they try to hold on to the No. 3 spot in the West.
Memphis slowed down Houston to win their third-straight game as they try to secure home-court advantage in the playoffs. Marc Gasol scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies. James Harden scored 30 points for the Rockets but also had eight turnovers as the Memphis defense was in postseason form.
Raptors 97, Bulls 88
Chicago slipped into sixth place in the East after losing to Toronto as Rudy Gay scored 23 points for the Raptors. Amir Johnson added 24 points and nine rebounds to outduel Carlo Boozer in the post. Boozer finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Chicago fell a half-game behind the Atlanta Hawks with three games to play.
Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Knicks past Cleveland. J.R. Smith added another 31 points off the bench as the two New York scorers continued their strong play of late to help the Knicks bounce back from a loss on Thursday. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 31 points and six assists.
Thunder 106, Trail Blazers 90
Russell Westbrook took his turn leading the Thunder, scoring 33 points to push Oklahoma City past Portland. Kevin Durant added 16 points and six assists for OKC as the win kept the Thunder in first place in the West, a half-game ahead of San Antonio. Will Barton scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Portland.
Tony Parker scored 22 points with ten assists as San Antonio beat Sacramento to remain a half-game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top spot in the West. Parker was one of seven Spurs players to score in double-figures, including Tim Duncan with 18 points. DeMarcus Cousins scored 19 points with 12 rebounds for the Kings.
Clippers 96, Hornets 93
The Los Angeles Clippers won their fourth-consecutive game as they continue battling for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Chris Paul scored 17 points with 14 assists to pace the Clippers and Blake Griffin added 20 points. Former Clipper Eric Gordon led the Hornets with a game-high 25 points.
Hawks 109, Bucks 104
Jeff Teague scored 24 points and dished out ten assists to lead Atlanta past Milwaukee. The win nudged the Hawks a half-game ahead of the Chicago Bulls for fifth place in the East with two games to play. Josh Smith also scored 24 points for Atlanta while Al Horford added 18 points and 17 rebounds. The Bucks remain locked in the eighth spot in the East with the loss despite a big game from Monta Ellis. The Milwaukee guard scored 27 points with 17 assists, eight rebounds and five steals.
Jrue Holliday scored 22 points to help Philadelphia run away from Washington in the second half to secure the win. Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Sixers. John Wall paced the Wizards with 24 points and seven assists.
Pistons 113, Bobcats 93
The Detroit Pistons continue to show some pride as they close out the regular season, beating the Charlotte Bobcats for their third-consecutive win. Brandon Knight scored 19 points and Jonas Jerebko added 21 points off the bench to lead the Pistons. Kemba Walker scored 28 points with six assists for Charlotte.